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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The early photographs of Edmond Fortier: documenting postcards from Senegal
Author:Hickling, PatriciaISNI
Periodical:African Research and Documentation
Geographic term:Senegal
historical sources
About person:Francois Edmond Fortier (1862-1928)ISNI
Abstract:Francois Edmond Fortier (1862-1928) produced well over 3,300 photographs, almost all in postcard form. Born in France, he arrived in Senegal around 1900. Fortier can best be described as a 'petit colon', who succeeded in making a living as a professional postcard photographer/editor, selling his work from a small Dakar shop and distributing postcards to the towns along the railway line. His subject matter covers ethnic types, formal commissioned portraits, city, town and village views, as well as scenes of daily life and labour. His earliest cards were all produced between 1900 and 1906 and constitute over 850 different images. For a postcard to be useful to the historian as historic document, the provenance of the photograph must be established, since the date and place of printing or mailing of a postcard need not be in any way connected to the date and place the photograph was taken. In the case of Fortier's postcards, there are numerous historical and stylistic indications that many of the photographs in the early series were actually taken years prior to Fortier's presumed arrival in Senegal. Research into the provenance of his early photographs confirms that a significant number of his early postcards should be attributed to Emile Noal, a nearly forgotten photographer working in Senegal in the last decade of the 19th century. For a period around 1900 Noal and Fortier were in business together. Their partnership may have included a period of Fortier's apprenticeship or possibly it was a simple purchase of Noal's studio, complete with his plates. Untangling the web of relationships between resident photographers and their studios is necessary to determine the full extent of Fortier's reliance on the work of Noal. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]